Standard prompting and reinforcement versus a multiple-component strategy for teaching visual-visual non-identity matching

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Spevack, Sara M.
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The Assessment of Basic Learning Abilities (ABLA) test can help staff choose training tasks for persons with developmental disabilities (Martin & Yu, 2000). This test assesses the ease or difficulty with which most clients are able to learn six mini-tasks. Most clients who pass level 5 also pass level 6, making level 5 less useful in understanding clients' abilities. A visual-visual non-identity matching (VVNM) task may fall between levels 4 and 6. This study examined whether a VVNM task has one of the qualities of a good milestone task. One quality of ABLA tasks is that a failed ABLA level is difficult to teach using standard prompting and reinforcement procedures. Study 1 examined whether four VVNM tasks could be taught using standard prompting and reinforcement techniques. The participants were two severely and one profoundly developmentally disabled individuals. An attempt was made to teach each participant each of four VVNM tasks, using standard prompting and reinforcement techniques. Two participants learned three tasks, while the third learned two of the four tasks, using this technique. Previous research has also found that, while it is difficult to teach a failed ABLA level using standard prompting and reinforcement techniques, it is possible to do so when using a multiple component technique. Therefore, in Study 2, the multiple component technique was used to teach the participants the tasks that they had failed to learn in Study 1. Participants were the three participants from Study 1, plus a fourth severely developmentally disabled individual. Of the six tasks presented with the multiple component technique, only one was learned. The findings from these two studies suggest that the VVNM task ay not be a good milestone task to replace level 5 of the ABLA test.